|Good battles, interesting time travel travel story, Aoba and Hina||Time spent on seemingly unnecessary side characters, silly terminology|
Now Buddy Complex is a series that might have done an excellent job scaring some people away early. I wouldn’t say it’s the kind of series that gives you the completely wrong impression out of the gate, but it really does use terminology that makes you wonder if they were trying to give the wrong impression. In the end though I really did enjoy Buddy Complex and am more than happy that we’re going to get a second season of this. There’s just no way to talk about the series without giving away the fact that more is indeed coming. It really wasn’t all that clear going into the last episodes whether this series was wrapping up for a season finale or a series finale.
The best way to describe Buddy Complex is that it is a bit of Pacific Rim + Gundam Seed + Time Travel. Honestly it pretty much feels like that once you get a few episodes in. The series really doesn’t mind making use of Gundam tropes and cliches and actually using them to maximum effectiveness. It’s just a fun series that I enjoyed from start to finish. A lot of jokes can be made about the Coupling System and how it works, but honestly it never seemed that silly to me. Maybe because I personally enjoyed Pacific Rim so the idea of pilots joining up mentally to become more effective in a fight seemed within my level of acceptability. The series definitely didn’t hold anything back though with initiating the connection being called “proposing”, the whole “coupling” business, etc. Honestly taking the terms on their own they all made sense for what each system was supposed to do.
Obviously a mecha series is going to depend heavily on the mechs or else it’s already at a disadvantage. Honestly I thought the designs were ok. They weren’t the best designs I’ve ever seen, but they weren’t the worst either. I’d say average would be the best way to describe them. The fact that they weren’t really weird looking to me was good enough. Also kind of liked the whole mode change they go through when the coupling system is activated. The battles in this series are usually short and sweet and the mechs in this series work fine for that. Battles were just plain fun at times and that’s a huge positive in my mind.
The characters obviously are key though since if they sucked…it would have been a chore to watch. Our main character Aoba is a pretty good guy. In some ways he’s dense, but I almost feel like the story needed him to be. We’re talking about time travel and honestly if someone figures out exactly how it works early on all their actions become scrutinized as you wonder about their intentions. He’s the kind of person who really tries to take care of those around him and is very loyal to his beliefs. If he thinks things should be one way and he sees something wrong he’s going to meddle. Despite how that can feel to watch, the story really wouldn’t get moving as well as it does without that kind of mindset. As a whole I think he’s a net positive.
Hina is probably my favorite character in the series. Her character is so deeply tied to the overall story that she’s probably more important than Aoba is himself. She doesn’t get the same kind of screentime, but her development through the series is something to watch. Starts out a very good soldier and starts to change from that point. A very capable pilot who has to deal with some stressful and unbelievable situations through this first season. Her actions feel very genuine through the series as she tries to follow her beliefs and has to deal with things that most people would be shaken up by. What goes on with Aoba and Hina is definitely central to the overall story and I enjoyed seeing how both characters were handled.
Another key player in things is Dio. In some ways I’m not surprised that people would get a strange feel at times from the friendship between Dio and Aoba. These two really struggle to get along and even when they do it’s usually full of banter. Dio starts this series very much like Hina in that he’s a focused and determined soldier. The guy has been through a lot during the war they are fighting in and understandably he has an issue with someone like Aoba who is very much a civilian who doesn’t have the same mindset as him. At the same time he’s a very good pilot and does develop slowly through this first season. He and Aoba are constantly bickering, but they know exactly how to work together when it’s necessary.
The supporting cast is pretty capable. I’d love to go into depth on Bizon’s character, but he’s someone you really need to see to appreciate. His development through the first season is more extreme than anyone else and is worth seeing. There are some decent characters in the secondary cast. Gallant is one heck of a commander for Zogilia and kept things interesting through this first part. The Cygnus crew isn’t that heavily focused on. We know basically what kind of people they are, but they certainly aren’t the focus.
The plot is an interesting topic really. If you are watching the series without knowing that they will go second season you honestly wonder if they wasted some of their episodes. A character like Fromm basically had a whole episode dedicated to his arrival, but he really hasn’t shown to be very important so far. Maybe steps up more in the second season, but otherwise not that necessary. There was just a couple episodes that while good for character development, when looked at as part of one 13 episode season it seemed questionable.
Of course in the end we are getting a second half so it’s not that big a deal and the character development will be nice moving forward. The story itself was pretty solid. Obviously time travel is part of it and as it stands I think they’ve handled it pretty well. Honestly you can get headaches thinking about how it all works and if there is contradictions in place, but for a general viewing it seemed to make sense. The series really does have a lot of Gundam Seed like moments in it which I personally enjoyed. You could predict a few things and see them coming, but they were done well enough that it wasn’t a negative.
It says something that the story felt like it could finish where it did or continue onwards. They got all the way to the last episode and I wasn’t sure which way they were going to go. Each episode seemed to move the plot forward and revealed more information to us and the characters themselves. I don’t recall any moments when the plot went into a stupid direction. It just seemed to move steadily towards the goal.
I will say the music was a plus for me in this series. The OP/ED was a strong combination that I personally watched pretty much every week. The lyrics fit with the story and where it was going. The music as a whole was good, but what really stood out was the action songs. There wasn’t a huge variety of them, but they were good. They definitely had me ready for the battles. The dramatic tunes and more emotional pieces also fit. There weren’t many that I’d say were amazing, but they were good and worked well with everything else.
The voice work was also a positive. Full props to Bizon’s VA especially. You’ll know why if you’ve watched the series XD. The rest of the cast had good voices and there weren’t any that bothered me which is nice. Can’t say too much on that topic aside from the fact that they fit.
Honestly when it comes down to it I really enjoyed Buddy Complex. The battles had decent variety to them and didn’t seem to be relying on stock footage, the story really had me thinking about time travel and what was going to happen, and in the end it had me invested in what was going on. This really isn’t a series about a war or anything like that. It’s about the characters and seeing how things are going to turn out for them. I don’t know when we’re getting that season, but I’ll watch it when it arrives. That’s why I’ll give this first part of Buddy Complex an A-.
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